VolunTourism is a form of tourism in which travelers volunteer, typically with a charity, at their vacation destination. The trips tend to be short term, group oriented, and require little expertise.
The experiences can be meaningful to travelers because they learn more about the community and come away with the rewards of making a difference. The locals are uplifted to know that total strangers would travel across the state, country, ocean, or globe to help them in their time of need.
In the past decade, WARM’s VolunTourist program has grown rapidly. We’ve capitalized on our coastal location by marketing to universities and churches all over the US. Many teams come back year after year and book as far as 12-18 months in advance.
Comments from mission teams include:
- We see how happy the residents are at the end of the week and we know we have touched their lives.
- I really appreciate how organized and encouraging your staff was.
- The homeowner, Ruth Ann, was an amazing person and was appreciative of every small detail that we helped with. It was a privilege to be able to help her in any way we could.
We’ve hosted alternative spring break and church mission teams from as far away as North Dakota, Wisconsin, New York, and Louisiana. Since Hurricane Florence, we’ve hired two more field supervisors to ensure quality control while keeping up volunteer demand.
WARM’s 2019 VolunTourist season began in mid-February and lasted well into August. Here are the results!
- Nearly 900 out-of-town volunteers served our community.
- 46 organizations (churches and universities) were represented.
- The out-of-town volunteers served 20,532 hours, valued at over $400,000.
- Local volunteers served over 1100 hours supporting the VolunTourists with technical assistance, snacks, trash runs, and punch lists.
- Together, they worked on homes of 66 families in Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender Counties.
VolunTourists are responsible for over half of the 120 homes
that WARM has worked on all year long. What an impact on our community!
Because of our location near the ocean, we have the potential to attract more teams from all over the country. However, we are limited by the number of volunteer lodging units in the area. Typically, these teams must raise money for their travel expenses and can rarely afford to stay in hotels. Most stay at local mission houses and churches
. When those are fully booked, potential teams end up spending their volunteer labor and vacation dollars in another community.
With VolunTourist Season wrapping up, we are now booking local teams in October and beyond. People travel hundreds of miles to make a difference through WARM. A volunteer team from your company, club, or church can have this same experience right in your back yard!
Learn more by emailing our Volunteer Coordinator today: [email protected]
JC Lyle has served as WARM’s Executive Director since January 2009. Under her leadership, WARM's annual revenue and productivity have more than quadrupled. Prior to working in the nonprofit sector, Lyle worked at McKim & Creed on subdivision design, rezoning and permitting throughout coastal North Carolina. Lyle earned her Master of Business Administration from UNCW's Cameron School of Business and has presented workshops on affordable housing issues and nonprofit management at state-level conferences. Lyle serves on the Planning Commission for the City of Wilmington and the North Carolina Housing Partnership, the board that oversees the state's housing trust fund. In 2012, Lyle was named Wilma Magazine's first Woman to Watch in the Nonprofit Category. In 2014, she accepted WARM's Coastal Entrepreneur Award in the Nonprofit Category, given by the Greater Wilmington Business Journal and UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In 2018, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Cape Fear Chapter named her Outstanding Fundraiser of the Year.